2012 NFL Mock Draft: Post-NFL Trade Deadline Edition
The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, leaving many new faces in new places this weekend. How did the big trades of the day shake-up the NFL draft?
There's no doubting that Stanford's Andrew Luck is the No. 1 prospect in the country, but what are the chances of the team holding the first pick needing a quarterback? And how will the trade of Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders shake-up the draft needs of the Raiders and the draft picks of the Cincinnati Bengals, who now have two first-round picks.
Sit back and enjoy as we break down the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
*Draft order based on Week 7 NFL standings and adjusted for 12 playoff teams
1. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The Indianapolis Colts may be better than their 0-6 record, especially if they had Peyton Manning under center, but their fans should be excited about the prospect of picking up the best draft prospect since No. 16 was running around at the University of Tennessee.
Andrew Luck, a redshirt junior at Stanford, would have been a top five pick last year, and most likely the No. 1 overall pick above Cam Newton. He's good, to say the least.
The Colts may be tempted to look at positions that could support a Manning-led run to another title, but the smart move would be selecting a rare prospect in Luck.
Forget talk that Luck may force an Eli Manning-like power play. Luck will be the top pick in the draft, no matter who has the selection.
2. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
The Miami Dolphins plan to fix the issues that have led to zero wins so far this season must start on offense. The team has given quarterback Chad Henne three years to show he's capable of leading this team to the playoffs. So far, he hasn't lived up to those hopes.
Step one will be bringing in a new head coach. Step two will be identifying a franchise quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft.
Robert Griffin III has a rare ability as a passer and runner. He has exceptional accuracy and touch, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes this season. He has also shown the arm strength to stretch the field. Oh, and he's one of the most electric running quarterbacks in the country.
The Miami fans need reason to fill the seats, and the new head coach will need an elite quarterback. The Dolphins can kill two birds with one stone here.
3. St. Louis Rams
Pick: Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
The St. Louis Rams missed out on the top wide receivers in the 2011 class, choosing instead to go after defensive end Robert Quinn. That move, like many first-round picks in St. Louis, hasn't panned out like the team had hoped.
Quinn has exceptional potential, but without a go-to wide receiver, the Ram offense has struggled, and second-year quarterback Sam Bradford's development has slowed due to dropped passes and bad route running.
The fix in St. Louis, at least in the passing game, is easy. Give Bradford a big wide receiver who can stretch the field, and he'll quickly show that he's still one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
4. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
The Arizona Cardinals have been down this road before. With the No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 draft, the Cardinals were hoping to draft a tackle to protect then franchise quarterback Matt Leinart. They used the selection on Levi Brown.
Brown, like Leinart, has been a bust. Even though he's still starting at left tackle, Brown is the worst left tackle in the league this season. And that's not just conjecture. Pro Football Focus ranks Brown as the worst tackle in the NFL this season.
The Cardinals will hope things are better this time around.
Matt Kalil is a more proven prospect than Brown ever was. He's coming from a pro-style offense and has the technique and intelligence to immediately make an impact at left tackle.
5. Denver Broncos
Pick: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
The Denver Broncos will have several options once the 2012 draft rolls around. The team could look at quarterbacks if Tim Tebow fails, or at cornerback to replace an aging Champ Bailey. The Broncos could also address an issue they thought they solved when drafting Knowshon Moreno at running back.
To date, Moreno has been underwhelming. Given multiple chances to succeed, Moreno hasn't produced. The Broncos will find themselves staring at an NFL-ready three down back when Alabama's Trent Richardson declares for the 2012 class.
Some will tell you a running back shouldn't be drafted in the top five picks. I disagree. If you have a chance to get a young LaDainian Tomlinson or Marshall Faulk-esque prospect, you pull the trigger. Richardson is a true all-around back. He is college football's best runner, but he's also a proven receiver out of the backfield and a solid blocker on passing plays.
There is reason Mark Ingram was featured less during the 2010 season at Alabama. That reason was Richardson.
6. Carolina Panthers
Pick: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
The Carolina Panthers will be a trendy pick to make the playoffs following the 2012 season, but to go from where they are right now to a playoff contender, they need help on defense.
The Panthers would love to find a top-tier defensive tackle here, but no player in this class is worthy (right now) of such a high draft pick. The back-up plan would be to add a shutdown cornerback to solidify the secondary.
Claiborne has been the best cover man in college this season. Even as a slightly undersized player, Claiborne is showing the ability to lock horns with the best wide receivers. He's even coming up in run support. That's the kind of heart the Panthers need on defense.
With Jon Beason and Thomas Davis healthy next season and Claiborne in the fold, the Panthers will feature a scary 11 on defense.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
The Jacksonville Jaguars are better than their on-field performance this season. The team isn't far from competing.
The Jaguars have a good young quarterback in rookie Blaine Gabbert, and the offensive line is good enough to protect Gabbert and open holes for Maurice Jones-Drew. The problems start at wide receiver. Mike Thomas is a promising young talent, but he needs help.
In the Jacksonville offense, a run-after-catch wide out will put the Jaguar offense over the top. Justin Blackmon is college football's most dangerous threat with the football in his hands.
Blackmon has the size and strength to power through defensive backs for the ball and is strong enough to break tackles as he runs away from defenders. The biggest question mark is his ability to separate from top cornerbacks, but with the right amount of coaching, he will be running away from them in no time.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
The Minnesota Vikings let long time starter Bryant McKinnie go this offseason after off-field issues and struggles with his weight. McKinnie landed in Baltimore, where he's slimmed down and playing sound football. Minnesota was left with has-beens at the position.
Jonathan Martin is the solution to the Vikings' problem at left tackle. An exceptional athlete at the position, Martin is a proven run blocker and pass protector, a rare combination for a draft prospect. Most rookies have to be coached up in one aspect of blocking, but Martin is a rock-solid prospect.
With Minnesota choosing to play Christian Ponder at quarterback for the remainder of the season, it's possible the Vikings will be drafting much higher when the 2012 draft rolls around.
9. Cleveland Browns
Pick: Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker, Arizona State
Before anyone says anything, I know the Cleveland Browns have D'Qwell Jackson at middle linebacker. I know that Jackson is having one of the best seasons of any MIKE linebacker in the game. Take a deep breath.
Jackson's contract expires after this season, and even if he's signed, the Browns need help at outside linebacker. Vontaze Burfict is more than just an inside linebacker.
Burfict routinely lines up at outside linebacker in the ASU defense, particularly when they are facing three-receiver sets. He has the athleticism and speedy to make plays on the edge and help in pass coverage.
Whether it's to team him up with Jackson or replace him, Burfict needs to be the pick for Cleveland.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, South Carolina
The South Carolina defense has quietly been one of the best in the NCAA this season. A big reason for that is the play of Melvin Ingram.
A one-time outside linebacker, Ingram plays well in space and has the speed and flexibility to make a transition to full-time pass rusher in the Dallas Cowboys' 3-4 defense.
Ingram would replace former first-rounder Anthony Spencer, who has yet to live up to his high expectations.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Kansas City Chiefs are getting excellent play from left tackle Branden Albert, but Barry Richardson has been horrible at right tackle this season. A replacement for Richardson is needed. And fast.
Riley Reiff is the type of big, nasty offensive tackle the Chiefs need to plug in at right tackle for the next decade. Reiff is Big 10 bred and ready to step in to the NFL as an impact starter.
The Chiefs 2011 draft class was a great one. If they can get equal production from Reiff, they will be well on their way back to the playoffs.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Landry Jones, Quarterback, Oklahoma
It would be easy to project USC quarterback Matt Barkley here. Pete Carroll recruited Barkley to USC, but he's also shied away from drafting former Trojans now that he's in Seattle.
Landry Jones is the better quarterback prospect. He's bigger, stronger and comes from a spread offense at Oklahoma that will position him well for an early starting gig in the NFL. He's also head and shoulders above Barkley when it matters most—the fourth quarter.
Jones isn't the safe pick that Andrew Luck is, but he's right behind him.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Manti Te'o, Linebacker, Notre Dame
The Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to field the best team money could buy this season; instead, they are 1-4 and on the verge of an insurmountable climb back into contention. It won't be too much longer until fans in Philly are looking forward to 2012.
The Eagles need a quick answer at middle linebacker. Manti Te'o will be a 10-year solution.
Te'o is an exceptional athlete and a talented tackler. He has the ability to play either inside or outside linebacker in the Philadelphia defense, but with Trent Cole and Jason Babin crashing the edges, they'll want him stopping runners in the middle.
14. Tennessee Titans
Pick: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
I have not been the biggest fan of Michael Floyd, largely because of his off-field problems, but there is no doubting the kid can play.
Floyd would be an excellent No. 2 wide receiver opposite Kenny Britt in Tennessee. The acquisition of Floyd would open up the Titans' offense, allowing Britt to shine and giving Chris Johnson more running room.
A big, solid receiver with the speed to separate from defenders, Floyd is game ready. He'll be a long-time favorite of Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker.
15. Washington Redskins
Pick: Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
The Washington Redskins have proven over the past few weeks just how badly they need a new quarterback. Rex Grossman and John Beck just can't get it done.
Mike Shanahan has built a good offensive line and defense in Washington; now he needs his quarterback.
In the past, Shanahan has targeted athletic quarterbacks who can get outside the pocket and make plays. He likes players who aren't afraid to take chances, but have the accuracy to pick apart a defense underneath. John Elway and Jay Cutler are his type of player.
Barkley may not be in the Elway-level of quarterbacks, but he's as good a prospect as Cutler was when Shanahan nabbed him to be his starter in Denver.
16. New York Jets
Pick: Brandon Jenkins, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Florida State
The New York Jets have so many needs, it would almost be easier to tell you what they don't need. They won't draft a quarterback, left tackle, middle linebacker or cornerback—that much is certain. Any other position is wide open.
The biggest need in New York is for a pass rusher. The team has struggled with free agent Calvin Pace and never got a return from Vernon Gholston or Bryan Thomas here. It's time to try again.
Jenkins is a high-motor pass rusher who can get to the quarterback. With quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick in the division, New York needs someone who can get in the backfield.
17. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons)
Pick: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
With their second of two first round picks in the 2012 class, the Cleveland Browns finish a project they started by drafting two defensive linemen last year.
The team has to be thrilled to find Coples here. The big defensive end from UNC will be an ideal fit at left defensive end, opposite 2011 rookie Jabaal Sheard. With Sheard, Coples and first-rounder Phil Taylor on the defensive line, the Browns have a defense to fear.
18. Chicago Bears
Pick: Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
The Chicago Bears have problems along the offensive line. Outside of rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi, the entire offensive line could be overhauled.
The team is high on Carimi on the right side, but the situation at left tackle and guard is horrible. The Bears are in a position to draft the best available lineman in the first several rounds.
Cordy Glenn has experience at guard and tackle in the SEC. Much like Branden Albert during his days at Virginia, Glenn has the athleticism and skill to stick at tackle once he's in the NFL.
Worst case scenario, Glenn plays left guard and becomes a damn fine player there.
19. Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami (FL)
The Cincinnati Bengals cannot know what the future holds for running back Cedric Benson. Benson signed a one-year deal before the season, but now he may miss time due to a suspension handed down by the league. Benson has had his issues off the field, but he's been an otherwise solid running back on the field.
The Bengals will be looking at running backs this offseason, and once they see Lamar Miller, they'll be hooked.
Miller is fast as hell; no one in college football hits the hole as hard as Miller does from the backfield. He's also a dangerous receiver and capable return man.
Miller may not be quite at the level of a Trent Richardson just yet, but he's also one year younger and less experienced. A look at their NFL potential is comparable.
20. San Diego Chargers
Pick: Ronnell Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
A college defensive end with outstanding pass rush ability, Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis will be a welcome addition opposite Shaun Phillips. The team hoped they had that answer when they drafted Larry English, but up until now, he hasn't played like a first round pick.
Lewis, who had an injury scare last season, is healthy now and wreaking havoc on Big 12 offenses. If you need any evidence to Lewis' ability, pop in film from the 2011 Red River Rivalry against Texas, and you will see a pass rusher extraordinaire.
Lewis isn't ready to drop into coverage, but he is ready to attack the quarterback. Playing with Shaun Phillips on the other side, that's all the San Diego Chargers need.
21. Houston Texans
Pick: Alameda Ta'Amu, Nose Tackle, Washington
The Houston Texans' move to a 3-4 defense has been aided greatly by the play of Antonio Smith and rookie J.J. Watt this season. To make this defensive line truly special, the Texans need a nose tackle.
Alameda Ta'Amu is the 2012 class' best nose tackle prospect. He has the body type, strength and leverage to make an immediate impact in the zero technique position on Wade Phillips' defense.
Ta'Amu has made a name for himself with his ability to strong-arm offensive linemen in the Pac-12. He's quickly moving up draft boards.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
Ronde Barber is 36 years old. The end of a great career will be coming very soon, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to be smart in replacing him with a draft pick this season. No exceptions.
Dre Kirkpatrick may have his ups and downs as a cover man, but in a pure zone system like the Buccaneers run, Kirkpatrick would be just fine.
What Dre Kirkpatrick brings to the table is exceptional size, top notch speed and the length to make plays on the ball. The Buccaneers, who have very few holes, need this.
23. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)
Pick: Jared Crick, Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
With their first of two picks in the first round, the New England Patriots look to bolster their defensive line.
Jared Crick would be a top 15 player had he not torn a pectoral muscle. The injury will cause Crick to likely miss most pre-draft events, included the scouting combine. The injury will not cause any long-term issues, but Crick's draft stock could take a hit.
The Patriots will be happy to pick up the versatile defensive lineman. Crick projects well at both defensive tackle and end. He has rare agility for his size, making him a threat to play in both the 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
The Pittsburgh Steelers are surviving this season with one good cornerback—Ike Taylor. They will look to add talent in the secondary and along the offensive line through the 2012 draft class.
What the team needs is a physical cornerback who can excel in press coverage and also step up against the run. That's pretty much Stephon Gilmore, and then some.
Gilmore is a solid, stout player, and is more than willing to come up in run support and take on physical receivers. Gilmore is the type of all-around cornerback the team needs in the secondary.
25. New York Giants
Pick: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
The New York Giants have a roster ready to make the playoffs and then do some damage. What they need is help in the secondary and on the offensive line. Unfortunately, the draft's best late first-round tackle (Andrew Datko) was just ruled out for the rest of the season after re-injuring his shoulder.
That leaves the Giants in a great position to address a need at cornerback.
The team has Aaron Ross and Corey Webster, and while both have been very good at times, they have also been very bad at times. Ross is a keeper; Webster is not.
Janoris Jenkins has had his problems off the field. He was dismissed from Florida after multiple drug related arrests and then enrolled at North Alabama, where he is shining against weaker competition. The fact is, Jenkins can play at a high level. He proved that last season at Florida.
If Jenkins can get his act together off the field, he'll be a rock-star cover man in the NFL.
26. Buffalo Bills
Pick: Donte Paige-Moss, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
The biggest surprise of the 2011 season has been the play of the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is showing that the promise he displayed last season was no fluke, and, with an improved wide receiver corp, he is tearing up the NFL.
How can the Bills go from surprise team to contender? Fielding a defense that is as good as their offense.
Buffalo would potentially look at offensive tackle here, but the team is getting enough production at the position and, honestly, there are no players worthy of the pick at tackle.
One player who could help is Donte Paige-Moss of North Carolina. The Tar Heel plays defensive end now, but would transition well to a pass rushing position in the hybrid defense the Bills love to use.
27. Detroit Lions
Pick: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
The Detroit Lions are 5-0 thanks to the production of draft choices like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh. All were first round picks. The Lions can hope their 2012 choice plays as well.
With their pick in the first round this year, the Lions will look at two positions: offensive tackle and cornerback.
Detroit could reach for an offensive tackle here, but there is not a player worth reaching for. At cornerback, the Lions would find an NFL-ready starter in Alfonzo Dennard.
Dennard has had an iffy season coming off injury, but his 2010 film is better than 2011 first-round pick and Nebraska teammate Prince Amukamara.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders)
Pick: Devin Taylor, Defensive End, South Carolina
As part of the trade that sent quarterback Carson Palmer to the Raiders, Cincinnati gets an extra first-rounder in 2012. They'll be happy to use it improving their defense.
Using their extra first-rounder on a defensive end or cornerback would make the most sense. Cincinnati desperately lacks a presence at cornerback opposite Leon Hall, but with the way the board has shaped up here, there are few players worthy of a late-first round selection. There is a defensive end worth looking at.
Devin Taylor had a brilliant 2010 season and is holding his own against constant double-teams in 2011. He would be an instant upgrade at end opposite Dunlap.
This move allows Cincinnati to address the cornerback position in Round 2, while building up their defensive line.
29. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Nick Toon, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
The San Francisco 49ers roster looks set at wide receiver, but getting in and looking at the production of each player leaves a lot to be desired.
Michael Crabtree was a Top 10 draft pick, but he's been a constant disappointment. Same for Braylon Edwards, signed this offsesason to complement Crabtree. Josh Morgan looked like the best receiver on the team, but now he's out with an injury. The team was active at the trade deadline in talks to bring Brandon Lloyd back to the Bay Area.
The 49ers need help at receiver now. With Edwards' contract expiring and little production coming from him, the team will look at the available receivers.
Nick Toon has NFL pedigree, size and speed. He's been an impressive star on a Wisconsin offense that is generally built around the run game. Toon's stock is soaring.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
It is simply amazing that, at age 36, Ray Lewis is still one of the top two inside linebackers in the NFL. He's a guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes.
If the Baltimore Ravens play up to expectations and make the Super Bowl, it's very likely Lewis will ride off into the sunset, ending a brilliant career. If that happens, Baltimore will be hurting.
While no one can replace Lewis immediately, the team will draft a linebacker to learn under him and ease the pain of losing Ray to retirement.
Luke Kuechly is the most sound tackler the 2012 class has to offer. He's a bit undersized, but that could work well in the Ravens' hybrid defense. There's no doubting his ability to get to the ball.
31. New England Patriots
Pick: Courtney Upshaw, Linebacker, Alabama
The Alabama Crimson Tide football team has become a "must-see" school for NFL scouts over the years. Head coach Nick Saban has one hell of a crop this season, and linebacker Courtney Upshaw just might be the best defender of the group.
A versatile linebacker able to play inside or outside, Upshaw would be an ideal fit for the New England Patriots' defensive fronts. The Patriots love to flip between a two, three and four-man front. They can do that because of linebackers like Upshaw that are able to play at defensive end or line up at middle linebacker.
Of course, since this is the second of the Patriots first-rounders, it's entirely possible Bill Belichick will trade it away for future picks.
32. Green Bay Packers
Pick: Devon Still, Defensive Tackle, Penn State
The Green Bay Packers have built a juggernaut through the draft. Their 2012 class will feature solid picks on the offensive line and defensive line, with help coming in the secondary and at running back in later rounds.
First up, getting a defensive end. Ryan Pickett and Jairus Wynn are merely average, both being protected by exceptional play at nose tackle and linebacker.
Devon Still plays tackle at Penn State, but he has the size and strength to make an impact at defensive end in this 3-4 defense.
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